Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Survived!

It was over 100 degrees for most of the 2009 Canyon County Fair & Festival. We spent all day, every day on the fairgrounds (except for Wednesday when we left about 5 pm). One rabbit died from the heat and the stress (not from our group, thank goodness!). On Saturday night the transformers at the edge of the fairgrounds blew after a car accident took a power pole down somewhere in town. Our goat was the closest living thing near the power pole when the sky lit up and slag started hitting the ground. A bit of grain helped him recover from the shock :-) The majority of the people in the pygmy goat barn stayed until power was restored in order to offer assistance if the rabbits had to be evacuated from their barn (since the rabbit barn is metal with no insulation- no air conditioning means dead rabbits once the sun is up). My quirky son signed himself up for the greased pig contest and a good time was had by all (no, he didn't get to touch the pig). Chris showed his guinea pig (I forgot the camera that day) and my mom's pygmy goat. He's all set to do it all over again next year and show his first market lamb!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fair Banner, work in progress

Here's a picture of the banner I'm making for the pygmy goat kids to use over their pens. In case you're wondering- I do realize that font is hard to read and kind of weird looking. I'm just too cheap to go buy another set of stencils! Aren't the cows cute though? I love my happy cow fabric (Alexander Henry, In the Moood).

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is me

Sometimes it feels as if the individuals we encounter during our blog explorations have joined our circle of friends. Certainly there are several blogs that I read regularly and I hold their authors in high esteem and some days it feels as if I truly know them and they know me.

Today while reading blogs it occurred to me that most of you who read my blog really don't know me. If you judge who I am and what I'm interested in based solely on what you've read in my blog then you only know a very small bit about who I am.

Most of you probably don't really care about the bits I don't write. We really have a very superficial relationship. It's alright. I'm ok with that.

It should be apparent that first and foremost I'm a wife and mother. Whenever I have to fill out a form that asks for occupation I write "mom." This blog also reflects that I have an interest in cooking, sewing, and crafting. I think that most of what I blog about concerns one or more of the subjects I've listed so far.

The things I don't write about (at least not more than once a year) are politics (I'm ultra conservative- but if you've been reading for a while you know that), health (I have an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis), my dreams and ambitions (mostly on hold until I have time to list something other than "mom" under occupation), my childhood (I grew up on a small farm and my mother and grandfather both worked in academia. My father died when I was 22 months old), and my marriage (because marriage is private and I don't ever want my husband to wonder what I'm telling the world about him).

Rarely, if ever, do I write about the things I really dislike. I don't tell you (until today) that I hate stupid people. Oops, I've been trying to get my kids to quit using words like hate and stupid. What I really meant to say is: I have a strong dislike of dealing with people who are intellectually challenged. There are a lot of intellectually challenged people in the world. A lot of those people seem to have life paths that intersect mine on a regular basis.

I don't write about how much I really, really, really like science and math. My best friend thinks I'm weird because one of the things that draws me to quilt is that it satisfies the math part of my brain with it's planning, continuity, and rhythm. She's asked me to refer beginning quilting questions to her instead of scaring people by telling them how much quilting is like math :-) Science is life. Math is life. Everything in the universe when broken into it's component parts is math and science. I accidentally minored in chemistry during college (and purposely minored in biology, ecology, economics, and zoology). Discussing disease vectoring actually excites me. Just a warning... I enjoy discussing nutrition and one of my dreams is pursuing cancer research (there's this theory I have...).

When people meet me these days I am sure that what they see is an overweight, thirty-something, homeschooling, mother of three. I'm sure that it's not a suprise to anyone that I bake bread and make yogurt. It's not suprising that I can sew or even that I'm a 4-H leader. What might suprise you is that I think being conservative means making fewer rules and allowing other people to make their own choices. It might suprise people that not only can I sort out lambs during a difficult delivery, I can kill an animal if it's needed.

Today I usually wear jeans, knit shirts, and Birkenstocks. I grew up wearing jeans, knit shirts, and cowboy boots. My boots were fashionable (for boots) but they all had traces of manure on the soles and the heels were designed to keep my foot from slipping through the stirrup in the event my horse "got in a storm" (which means an animal moving quickly and not rationally placing it's body to avoid injuring itself or it's rider). My neck curves the wrong way coming out of my head because more than once in my life I've been thrown from a horse and landed uncomfortably. Every injury I ever aquired (except for skinned knees from the bike) was aquired while dealing with livestock.

When I was in high school I was very active in 4-H and FFA. As a freshman my horse judging team placed first at State FFA Contests and we went to Nationals. When I graduated from high school there were universities interested in me simply because of my competitive judging skills. I raised Suffolk sheep and showed Arabian horses (because that one Quarter Horse we had tried to kill me). During the course of my 4-H career I won almost every event I participated in at one time or another (not there weren't people who consistently beat me). Round Robin (where top showman from each species compete to be THE top showman. Large animal round robin is sheep, horses, beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, goats, and sometimes llamas. Small animal round robin is rabbits, cavies, poultry, pygmy goats, cats, and dogs) was my favorite event- except that I never did get the hang of either showing or judging swine. I was a District FFA officer, attained the State FFA Degree, and always placed 2nd in the parliamentarian contest at State FFA Convention.

The reason I don't write these things on the blog is because (having just looked over my post) it doesn't sound good. There are way to many "I"s. It's not polite. It looks remarkably like boasting :-) Tonight I don't care. I'm tired of listening to people talk about things they don't know anything about. I'm tired of having people assume that because I'm a stay at home mom I know nothing of the rest of the world. I really resent it when people assume that because my life moves at the pace of a three year old I only know what a three year old knows. It really bothers me when men make the assumption that I must not have an intelligent opinion because I'm a wife and mother (and don't have a penis- thank God). In general I am really amused by people who keep saying, "I'm intelligent," If you're intelligent you shouldn't have to tell people- they should be able to figure it out without you labeling yourself for them.

What I'd really like you all to know is that I am more than a wife and mother. My world does not begin and end with potty training and bread baking. There is more going on in my head than laundry detergent recipes and methods of teaching reading. Please don't underestimate my intelligence or ability to assimilate and analyze data. In return I will try to remember that all of you most likely do not blog about everything going on in your heads either. We all have areas of our life we choose to share with the world. That doesn't mean that our worlds hold only the things we write about.

Fairtime, fairtime

This is our last week to get everything wrapped up with our 4-H projects. Interview evaluations are on Monday, July 13th. Chris will be doing an interview this year. It's still optional to have Cloverbuds interview but I think the practice will be good for him. Next year he'll be a regular 4-Her and the interview will be required.

Chris will be entering a cake in the fair since he attended all the cake decorating meetings. Family, Consumer Science and misc. projects check into the fair on Monday, July 20th. He'll also be showing a pygmy goat and a guinea pig. They check in on the 21st. Goats show the afternoon of the 22nd. Rabbits and Cavies show the morning of the 23rd. The fat stock sale is the 24th and Chris would like to be a runner during that event. Our club picnic is the 25th and we also get to go home that evening.

I'm the leader for cake decorating, rabbits, and cavies. For some reason I also agreed to help with the cloverbud project this year. Next year I would like to send my small animal kids to a leader in Middleton and switch my focus towards the sheep project. Chris will have a market lamb next year and since sheep are my first love- that's the project I'd like to work with. Cake decorating has been so much fun and I've learned so much- I'd like to offer it again next year. Hopefully there will be some members interested in taking the project!

Today, I am tired. I can hardly wait for fair to be over! Chris is excited and can't understand why I'm not as happy as he it that it is fair time. My mother is pleased to see the experience coming full circle since she still remembers the days when I was a 4-Her and she was tired.

I've been thinking a lot about some of my 4-H leaders and how mcuh they impacted my life. Steve and Tish Oki were amazing, kind, wise people. My life is different and I am a better person because they were in my life. It's been several years since they died and I still miss them. It's my hope that I can make a difference in the lives of my members too. Unfortunately I'm not as amazing, kind, or wise as Steve and Tish were. Here's hoping age and maturity improve me :-)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ahh... the relaxing, quiet, days of summer

We are a 4-H family. Some families are sports families. Some are video game families. Some are simply TV watching families. We are a 4-H family.

What does that mean? It means many things and at any given time of the year my answer to that question may be different. Right now, today, the beginning of July, it means that fair is quickly approaching and our time is filled with record books, project meetings, and discussions about exhibits and showmanship.

We knew when our 4-H year began (October 1st each year) what the fair dates would be. We knew. It's written on all of our 4-H calendars and published each month in the Lines for Leaders newsletter mailed out from the extension office. Yet, come June every year we run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to make sure we've met all the project requirements, completing our record books, and preparing for fair. I think it's a possibility that 99% of all 4-Hers are procrastinators (and so are their leaders).

About this time every summer I begin to question whether I'm willing to be a 4-H leader next year. I question my own organization, teaching abilities and methods, and wonder how I could have forgotten to include subjects n and x during project meetings this year. I fear that my kids won't be prepared for competition and that their embarrassment will be all my fault.

I forget that as a leader I am responsible for assisting the members in my projects. Assisting. There are members who always ask questions and seek out knowledge and experience on their own. They gain skills and knowledge in the gap between meetings. They attend functions other than club meetings, like shows and contests, and through experience their skill set expands.

Then there are the members who only attend meetings (and don't make it to every meeting). They don't go to the shows and contests that occur during the year. Their skill set is developed during our project meetings. Their skills don't change much from meeting to meeting. I feel more responsibility to them because everything they know comes to them through me. But I can't teach everything in a year. Expertise comes through repeatedly experiencing and participating in activities and events that build their skills.

I can only assist. Ask me a question. I'll tell you where to look to find answers. Work with me. Come to meetings and participate. Participate physically as well as mentally because knowing isn't as important as doing. Through doing you'll gain the knowledge. You'll also gain confidence in your own ability to learn and succeed. If you let me, I will help you, but I can't do it for you.Remember that you are in charge of your own learning experience. I'm the assistant.

I wish we'd learned more about diseases this year- but we had one member show up at the January meeting and one member show up at the February meeting where we would normally discuss health and diseases. I wish we'd butchered a rabbit this year, but we're really out of time. I wish all of my rabbit and cavy members had attended an open show this year. The opportunity was there, but only one member participated in the local open show. I wish the members understood that in order to really master this subject they have to immerse themselves within the industry in some way. They don't have to own 40 animals and breed them, but it would be great if they looked for opportunities to handle and examine as many animals as they can find.

I wish that I didn't feel as if the desire to learn about this project means that mastery of the subject is the ultimate goal. I wish that I could relax and accept that mastery comes over time and one year is not much time to spend learning. I wish that parents would also relax and look for mastery over time instead of mastery by fair time.

4-H isn't about the fair. 4-H isn't about winning. 4-H isn't even about the record books.

4-H is about building life skills. It's about making goals and incrementally meeting those goals. It's about teamwork and cooperation and learning how to learn. It's about sportsmanship and responsibility. It's about giving your best effort. Some days it's simply about showing up.

All year long we've shown up. We've put in time every month working on this project. We've worked with members of three different 4-H clubs. We've formed friendships. We've learned not to brush our teddies. We've learned to bring ice bottles with our rabbits during summer travel. We've filled out camp scholarship applications. We've learned to fill out entry forms and record books. We've learned to pose our animals.

Fair is coming. 4-H isn't about the fair.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room